"Some participants noted that in their country there was a move towards greater recognition of the need for public health-oriented approaches to tackle drug problems accompanied by a shift in the goals of drug policies towards reducing drug-related harms. However, the relatively limited set of indicators that has historically been used to evaluate drug policy may have limited utility for informing on outcomes relevant to this perspective. Some drug policy experts have argued, for example, that a preoccupation with drug use prevalence as a primary outcome measure for drug policy is problematic, as it does not sufficiently consider the complexity of patterns of use or harms, nor distinguish sufficiently between different forms of drug use and the harm attributed to them. Taken together, trends suggest that moving towards drug policies that accentuate targeted approaches to reducing drug harms necessitates concomitant shifts in the focus and priorities of drug monitoring and evaluation systems. This would imply giving greater attention to indicators that monitor harm. In addition, approaches which can more holistically consider different patterns of use and how these may interact are likely to be necessary for informing future drug policy evaluations (Rhodes, 2019).

"A drug policy shift towards a focus on harms to target responses may also be accompanied by arguments for drug law reform. It is argued for example that there is evidence that suggests the criminalisation of drugs can increase some health, social and economic harms. Accordingly, there is a momentum towards seeking alternatives to criminalisation for simple possession and greater consideration in policy discourse on the possible unintended negative consequences of different policy options (Rhodes, 2019)."


European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2023), The future of drug monitoring in Europe until 2030, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.